Although technology start-ups are nothing new in Seattle, local resident and entrepreneur, Paul McTaggart had something different in mind when he founded Dental Departures. Although it is an internet company, it’s product and services are not entirely tech based as the company pairs users with dentists around the globe.
Paul was a manager at Expedia when he found out that one of his relatives needed some serious dental care. Unfortunately, in spite of being in his home country of Canada, the normal cost of the dental work would far exceed this relative’s retirement budget.
This in not an unusual story in America as dental spending has remained flat since the economic crash in 2008. However , according to a study published in Dental Economics:
according to our research, is being driven by a decline in utilization of dental care among adults. Other factors include improvements in oral health which could be causing a shift in procedure mix away from (more costly) restorative procedures toward (less costly) preventive procedures.
Other speculation suggests that people have been forced to choose other options, such as seeking dentistry in countries where dental care is equivalent but more affordable. Otherwise known as dental tourism.
This may also explain why, according to the American Dental Association, visits to the ER for dental care have spiked:
The number of ED visits also has grown. According to one study, between 1997 and 2007, the increase inper-capita ED visit rates was almost double of what would be expected from population growth. This increase in ED visits has coincided with a decrease in the number of Emergency Departments nationwide.
Thus, EDs nationwide are under pressure to provide care for more patients. Inappropriate and continuous use of EDs for non-traumatic dental visits strain the health care system, contribute to overcrowding, increased care costs and longer wait times for patientswith urgent health conditions.
This dental economic crisis is exactly why Paul sprung into action.
Over the next month Paul exhausted every avenue to help his family, and realized that dental tourism existed across the globe. The only problem was the ability to make educated decisions with a great deal of certainty did not.
Since 2010, Dental Departures has been the sole leader in helping book appointments and make informed decisions when selecting a a global dentist. They provide photos, videos, and reviews for each dentist that is within their network, which is at 1400 and growing rapidly.
Paul’s dedication to his company has no bounds. In 2012 he rented out his Central District home in order to visit the country’s that he sends his users. For the past year he has been visiting networked clinics and dentists. Beginning in the the dental hotspot of Los Algodones, Mexico, and arriving in Thailand last month.
During the planning stages for this trip, PBS featured a telling documentary on the unaffordable cost of dental care in Dollars and Dentists. This only reinforced what he already knew was wrong with the current system.
He feels it is vital that he make sure that the users of Dental Departures receive the same quality, affordable, and safe experience that his relative did.
This is not to say there cannot be issues as dental procedures have been known to fail irregardless of who or where the work is performed. Paul made sure his company made affordable options available to cover return trips for follow up care. To this point, however, less than 1% of the 5000+ appointments made have needed any secondary intervention.
That is how Dental Departures created the largest network of global dentists anywhere, and why Paul believes the future of affordable dental care is just a short trip away.